The long walk

A garden that does not exist in reality, though you wish it didTo help the Pakistan Earthquake effort, here are a list of groups you can donate to.

Yesterday I had to be in Jersey City for a meeting. I had never been to the location before so I google mapped it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that close to any PATH train stops, nor did any bus go near it. But google promised me it was a 2.3 mile car ride, and, as I looked at the map, I became convinced I could walk direct, thereby reducing the distance to about a mile. I had two hours before the meeting, so I decided to walk. I packed a bunch of things in my backpack including notebooks, speakers, and lots of paperwork and headed out the door.

Hoboken was simple enough to traverse: just head southwest towards New York Ave. I crossed the light rail tracks and observed, for the first time in my four years here, the recycling stations here in Hoboken. Michael Moore had me falsely convinced that no one really recycles any more, that it’s a mere token pickup and it all ends up in landfills anyway. Not so in Hoboken, which had bales of compressed plastics waiting their trip to some furnace to be melted down into new coke bottles and nylon clothing.

So I followed this little twisting street that led upwards at a gentle slope, trying to forget that about eighteen months ago some poor dishwasher was killed by two gang members on his way home from work at 2am on this very curve. I was glad it was still light, not just for the safety factor, but because the ramp was rather beautiful. Few people tread the woods next to the road and they had become overgrown with trees and shrubs. The air even smelt cleaner. For a moment I felt as if I were in a forest, and not just a mile or two from New York City. There were even tall rock faces like those seen in the Appalachian mountains, with streams of water dripping between the cracks.

I walked under an overpass, trying not to dwell too much on the strange headless bird that was dangling before the entrance. I didn’t know if it was real or plastic (time had dulled its colors) but I didn’t like the omen very much, so I moved quickly past. Jersey City, compared to Hoboken, is a little like crossing the tracks. I don’t wish to insult any of my readers who might happen to live there (parts of Jersey City are very nice), but I felt as if I had stepped through a portal into an alternate universe. Though there is a lot of construction, most of the town is dilapidated, with plywood covering a lot of windows, people using sheets for curtains, and in general, everything seemed run down, tired — though I did see a few Hummers and several SUVs with “highlights.”

Thinking myself smart in the direction realm I headed in what I thought was west towards my destination, examining the changing houses as I went. The town improved as I walked, as the gardens got more impressive and the amount of construction was daunting. But after a mile or so of heaving my heavy backpack I noticed that the road ended, and my cross street I was expecting was nowhere in sight. Then, it started raining. Heavily.


I called my cousin. “Are you at a computer? I need you to google map me.” Though soaked and cranky, thanks to the technology of cell phones and google maps, he was able to lead me in a (semi) direct course back to my destination. He could even tell me, “There’s a large building on your right.” And I responded, “There’s a large lady on my left, selling me services. Is that on your map?” He said no. Of course, there was no lady. I ended up being early after all, in time to watch the funeral home next door wheel in two bodies (as the employee eyed me strangely for passing his building several times) and in time to have a coffee at an Exxon station and watching an employee use a long pole with a suction cup on the end to replace the numbers. To my surprise, he lowered the price by a few cents, whether to compete with his lower priced neighbor, or because of the lower cost of oil, I don’t know.

All in all it was an interesting trip, though I think I’ll bus it next time.